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When it first entered its fifth generation in 2013, the Nissan Altima was a radical departure from traditional mid-size sedan norms. Bearing an athletic shape, a brisk ride and a good set of technological goodies, it was ahead of its time. Now five years later, the rest of the competition is catching up and the Altima is not as groundbreaking as it once was, but it still retains its place among the top mid-size cars today.
Nissan has done a good job updating its technology, adding new features and offering new takes on the car’s traditional styling. The 2018 Nissan Altima now comes with a number of popular safety and connectivity features as standard equipment, and its different trim levels have been reshuffled to make it easier to customize and tailor to your individual preferences.Helping you navigate these new trim levels is our Altima trim level guide. We will introduce each trim level and the equipment it offers as well as any options or packages that can be used to customize it. We will also provide a comparison with the model above and below, helping you decide which one offers the best balance of features and price based on your preferences. Speccing out your perfect 2018 Nissan Altima does not get much easier than this.
Compare the 2018 Altima 2.5 S vs 2.5 SR Trims. What is the difference?
Even the base Nissan Altima 2.5 S benefits from a relatively strong feature set, especially once you consider its optional features. The Altima 2.5 S comes equipped with a 5-inch infotainment display that supports Bluetooth, hands-free texting, Siri Eyes Free and the car’s rearview camera.
Push-button start is also standard, as is a forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. That last one is a new addition this year and serves to add a significant amount of value to this entry-level trim. 16-inch steel wheels are standard, but can be upgraded to 17-inch alloy ones. In addition to those features, the optional convenience package adds a remote starter and a powered driver’s seat to the 2.5 S as well.
The 2.5 SR is both the performance-focused and the stylistically-adventurous trim level. It certainly looks the part with 18-inch aluminium sport wheels, fog lights and a spoiler. Making good on the performance-focused look are the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters that let you manually control the Altima’s continuously variable transmission and the specially-tuned sport suspension. This gives the 2.5 SR a little more power and control going through turns, though it doesn’t quite match the athleticism of the more sporty Nissans.
The 2.5 SR also offers two optional packages to choose from. The Special Edition gives the 2.5 SR heated front seats, leatherette upholstery and a remote starter. It also includes the upgraded infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen, built-in navigation and support for voice commands, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
The SR Special Edition also gets unique wheels and badging. The Midnight Edition has the same features, but changes to a monochrome color scheme and adds blackout accents throughout the interior and the exterior.
The Altima 2.5 S offers a solid entry-level value, with many buyers being completely satisfied with just the basic features that it offers. While it would be nice if the upgraded infotainment with a touchscreen and smartphone integration was available on the S, its absence is made up for by the standard active safety features, making it a good buy nonetheless.
By itself, the 2.5 SR trim does not add too much besides some livelier driving dynamics, but that in itself could be worth it to the more sporty buyers. However, the 2.5 SR Special Edition offers a surprising bundle of features at a very good price. Even if you are not looking to use the stiffer suspension of the SR, you may appreciate the synthetic leather, heated seats and advanced infotainment that the SR Special Edition brings.It also offers them at a much lower price point than a similarly-equipped 2.5 SV Altima, though that has a number of other attractive features as well. Depending on what kind of features you are looking for, it definitely deserves a look.
Compare the 2018 Nissan Altima 2.5 SR vs 2.5 SV Trim Levels. What is the difference?
Technically, the 2.5 SV follows a progression from the 2.5 S, rather than the 2.5 SR, as the SR is a side branch of the Altima family tree. However, the two have more in common in terms of features compared to the 2.5 S, especially once the optional packages are involved. The 2.5 SV does not keep any of the performance features of the 2.5 SR however, and does not come with 18-inch wheels or a spoiler, though it keeps the fog lights. It has the same 17-inch alloy wheels that are optional on the 2.5 S and adds standard remote started, dual zone climate control, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.
The base 2.5 SV is a reasonable upgrade for the price, but it is made even better by the optional Technology Package. The package includes the upgraded infotainment, including the 7-inch screen, smartphone integration and navigation. It also adds a slew of comfort features like heated seats, steering wheel and mirrors, a moonroof, and an auto-dimming mirror with a compass and a HomeLink universal remote. At an MSRP of just $1,280, it is a very serious value, though it lacks the leatherette seating included on the 2.5 SR Special Edition.
The climate control and the additional safety features are the big draw of the 2.5 SV over the 2.5 S or the 2.5 SR models of the Altima. Unless you feel strongly about either, the cost of the SV can feel a little high for what you are getting.
Compare the Altima 2.5 SV vs 2.5 SL Trim Levels. What is the difference?
The Altima 2.5 SL is the premium model of the car, and the highest four-cylinder trim level. It has two big upgrades that separate it from the 2.5 SV - the full leather upholstery and the premium nine-speaker Bose audio. It also borrows the heated seats, heated steering wheel and the auto-dimming mirror with HomeLink from the 2.5 SV Technology Package. It also has its own technology package, that is identical to the 2.5 SV one besides the features that the SL makes standard.
While this does make doing trim-to-trim comparisons between the two easier, it does feel somewhat strange to have the touch screen and connectivity options not included as standard on what is basically the car’s top-end model.
That small gripe aside, the 2.5 SL offers a good combination of features for anyone who is looking for luxury features. Leather upholstery and premium audio tend to be the big ticket upgrades that are often purchased together, so the combination can be appealing to many. If those two items are not high on your wishlist, then the 2.5 SV is probably going to be the better choice in most cases, whether you opt for the Technology Package or not.
Compare the Altima 2.5 SL vs 3.5 SL Trims. What is the difference?
While the rest of the Altima lineup uses a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, the 3.5 SL comes equipped with a powerful 3.5-liter V-6. It adds nearly 100 horsepower to the Altima, bringing it up from 179 horsepower to 270. The increase in speed, responsiveness and straight-line acceleration is huge, and the roar of the V-6 is very satisfying. In addition to that, the 3.5 SL also includes all of the standard features of the 2.5 SL and the Technology Package is a standard feature.
The Altima 3.5 SL offers a proposition that is increasingly rare in the mid-size car segment. As most of its rivals switch over to more fuel-efficient turbocharged four-cylinders, the Altima is among the last few holdouts sporting a V-6 option. So if you want a mid-size car with a big V-6, the Altima 3.5 SL is your go-to option. The added technology and comfort features are a nice added bonus, but cost-efficiency is not the name of the game here.
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Which Trim Level to Choose?
From basic to stylish to powerful, the 2018 Nissan Altima trim levels run the gamut, with each focused on providing a different sort of driving experience. The Altima 2.5 S is a good entry-level model, providing a good number of nice standard features, but it often finds itself overshadowed by the excellent value offered by the 2.5 SR and the 2.5 SV models, especially once they are backed up by their optional packages.
The 2.5 SL builds on that value with leather and premium audio, making for a well-rounded upscale choice. Finally, the 3.5 SL is one of the only mid-size V-6 sedans and a go-to selection for anyone who feels they want more brawn in addition to the Altima’s nice technology and comfort features.
• Why buy a 2018 Nissan Altima? w/ pros vs cons